EDITOR'S NOTE: The following press release was posted without editing.

PARIS, TN – Henry County continues to experience a surge in positive COVID-19 cases and the community is feeling the strain.

Hospitalizations continue to remain high here locally and regionally. During a teleconference meeting with the county COVID-19 Coordination Team on Thursday afternoon, Henry County Medical Center reported 18 COVID-19 inpatients with three on ventilators and several on bi-pap machines. Lisa Casteel, CEO Henry County Medical Center stated, “We are working to support all services currently and are seeing some slight relief with the ability to transfer some patients to Nashville area hospitals.”

Casteel also noted, “Henry County Medical Center will be conducting a “Facebook Live” session on Tuesday, November 24th at 12 noon, with Paula Bell, Director of Pharmacy, and Shelly Winn, Director of Laboratory Ser- vices to discuss COVID-19 treatments, new vaccines to become available soon, and mitigation precautions to re- duce virus spread. Look for more information on the HCMC Facebook page.”

Neely Ashby, RN, Director of Nursing provided a somber update to the group stating, “This week, at Henry County Medical Center, we have had 2 COVID related deaths. During the past 10 days, our number of hospital- ized COVID positive patients have reached an all-time high. We continue to require masking inside the hospital to protect our staff, our patients, and our community. Wearing a mask is a way to show respect for everyone around you. It is important for us to lead by example. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and social distance; to- gether, we can limit the spread of COVID-19 in Henry County.”

Travis McLeese , CEO of the Chamber of Commerce gave an update to the COVID Team regarding how Coron- avirus is affecting local businesses. ”It is vital, now more than ever, that we support our local businesses," com- mented McLeese,. "In addition to their normal holiday practices, many of our local businesses are offering curb- side, delivery, online and even Facetime shopping opportunities. Most provide multiple sanitizing stations, and even give masks if patrons request them. As a community we must take personal responsibility for our social dis- tancing habits, so that these businesses can stay open and our economy continue to function."

Henry County remains on the White House Coronavirus Task Force map as a “red county” meaning the virus spread rate is equal to or higher than 10.1%. Tennessee remains a ‘red state” and currently has the 7th highest death rate in the nation due to COVID-19.

The Center for Disease Control has issued new guidelines for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. The CDC is strongly urging families to stay at home for Thanksgiving Holiday to help slow the spread. It you must congre- gate, do so with 8 or less persons, bring your own food, open windows while indoors to increase ventilation, and consider hosting an outdoor meal. We can all do our part by:

• Wearing a mask or face covering when you leave the house. Be sure to keep one in your car in the event you forget. Encourage your friends and family to do the same.

• Keeping 6 feet of distance in public, while also wearing a mask or face covering.

• Continuing to disinfect high-touch surfaces. Remember to wipe down your cell phone, doorknobs, remote controls and other frequently used objects.

• Washing your hands regularly throughout the day. Wash your hands for 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer if water and soap are unavailable.

Understanding what to do if you suspect you have been exposed to COVID is also helpful to slow the spread. When you get a Coronavirus test, either with or without symptoms , guidelines call for you to quarantine for 14 days. This means to go home and stay home for the CDC recommended 14 days . When you know you have been exposed to a confirmed positive COVID-19 person, you should do the same and quarantine for 14 days. If you become symptomatic during the 14 days, consider getting a test or contact your personal physician for in- structions. If you test positive you should quarantine for 10 days minimum and if you should not become symp- tomatic, you are cleared to return to normal routine after 14 days.

Henry County Mayor Brent Greer is extending the county masking requirement order another seven days through Saturday, November 28th. The existing order was set to expire Saturday night at midnight.

Mayor Greer adds, “Again we are facing higher COVID-19 spread rate than the last week. We had 68 positive cases reported last Sunday, which is the new highest number of cases reported on one day. We had 50 new positive cases reported on Thursday. The county positive case rate averaged 34.4 cases each day for the past seven days up from 25.6 a week ago. Today, the State Dept of Health is reporting the county has 320 active COVID-19 cases, which is up 108 persons higher than last week. It is concerning the numbers continue to rise. We must take personal responsibility to insure the health of our community.”

The Henry County Health Dept continues to provide free COVID testing Monday - Friday from 8:30AM to 10:30 AM by appointment only. Over the past seven days, the county averaged 116.7 tests per day with an 25.0% positivity rate.

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